There have been some excellent posts lately on the issue of labels in general and the label “Autistic” specifically. You can find my two current favorites here and here, as well as my previous post where I discuss labels.
Then, this morning I was reminded by this Tumblr post (I’m not sure how to embed it here, but please do click through and read it) that not everyone views labels the way I do. Some people see labels as predictors of what someone can or cannot successfully accomplish.
I see the Autistic label specifically as a tool for greater understanding – particularly for greater self understanding. I do not see “Autistic” as a means by which to limit someone’s options or as something that should define a person’s potential.
So, in much the same way as is expressed in the Tumblr post above, I have mixed feelings about being diagnosed late in life.
On the one hand I don’t particularly wish that I’d been diagnosed as a child because my family may very well have used that label to limit my options instead of to better understand who I was and what I needed.
Then again, I do wish that I’d personally had this understanding of myself much, much sooner than I did – possibly as a child, but certainly by late high school. If my parents had gotten me a diagnosis and then used the label to help me succeed then it would’ve been an overwhelmingly positive thing in my life to have known earlier.
In the end, there’s no way to know now how it would’ve been and there are overwhelming pros and cons either way.